ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday indefinitely adjourned a government appeal against the removal of Gen Pervez Musharraf’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The federal government had filed an appeal against a Sindh High Court (SHC) decision to remove the former president’s name from the ECL.
On Wednesday, a five-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, adjourned the case indefinitely — on the request of Musharraf’s counsel.
Earlier, Musharraf’s legal team submitted a single-page application to the court requesting the adjournment of the case, while citing the busy court schedule of Musharraf’s lawyer, who is appearing before a special court in the treason case agains the former president.
“The matter before the trial court requires detailed preparation, and in order to effectually assist this honourable court in the instant matter, more time is required by respondent No 1’s [Musharraf’s] Advocate Supreme Court for preparation and research,” said Naseem.
Further, the application said, there is no cavil with the proposition that the court is to be given precedence, however, in view of the peculiar circumstances; the prayer for adjournment has been made in the interest of justice.
Earlier on Monday, the federal government submitted the records of cases pending against Musharraf in different courts. The office of the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) submitted records along with court orders in different six cases, such as the Lal Masjid case, the Benazir Bhutto murder case, the judges’ detention case etc.
On June 23, the court suspended the SHC’s judgement and adjourned the hearing for four weeks – which did not take place later. Further, on July 25, the court rejected the former president’s plea to schedule the hearing immediately after Eidul Fitr.
Issuing a four-page written order on July 1 for the same case, the top court observed that it has granted leave to the government’s plea to consider four questions.
The court said whether or not the apex court’s April 8, 203 interim order and the July 3, 2013 final order merge, the principle of the merger was not attracted in this case regarding the restriction on Musharraf’s travel abroad.
The bench questioned whether the April 8 order was an interim one and if on the basis of integration of the law the interim decision was included in the final order issued on July 3.
“Can the SHC suspend the April 5, 2013 decision to place Musharraf’s name on the ECL?” the bench had asked. The bench also questioned if, without modification or reversal of the SC’s April 8, 2013 order, Musharraf can be permitted to leave the country.
Musharraf is facing four criminal cases including one high treason case, filed by the federal government. Prior to the filing of the government’s complaint, four petitions were filed before the SC in which the petitioners had prayed for direction to the federal government to prosecute Musharraf under the 1973 high treason Act.
The court on April 8, 2013 directed the secretary interior to make sure Musharraf’s name was placed on the ECL. His name had already been placed on the ECL on April 5, 2013 pursuant to the SHC’s March 29, 2013 order in which it was directed that Musharraf will not leave the country without permission of the trial court. Later, a division bench of the SHC declined to exclude Musharraf’s name from ECL.
Musharraf challenged the federal government’s April 5, 2013 order placing him on the ECL as well as the April 2, 2014 order rejecting his application to withdraw the earlier order.
The SHC on June 12 allowed his plea and struck down the Office Memorandum dated April 5, 2013 on the grounds that the top court’s April 4 order had merged into a final order dated July 3, 2013, wherein all four petitions were disposed of but no order was made to place Musharraf’s name on the ECL.
Additionally, the April 4, 2013 memorandum had not mentioned any of the grounds enumerated in Rule 2 of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules 2010 — according to which the federal government is empowered to prevent any person from leaving the country.